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Make Decisions More Efficiently
All business activity comes down to making decisions and executing on them. Dave Girouard, CEO of personal finance startup Upstart, believes that an executive’s success in this regard sometimes depends on his or her ability to develop speed as a habit in both. “If, by way of habit, you consistently begin every decision-making process by considering how much time and effort that decision is worth, who needs to have input and when you’ll have an answer, you will have developed the first important muscle for speed,” Girouard said. Of course, not all decisions should be made quickly. Some are more complicated or critical than others and require gathering considerable amounts of information. It should also be noted that speed does not require one person to make all the calls. Girouard, who previously served as president of Google Enterprise Apps, said, “The art of good decision making requires that you gather input and perspective from your team, and then push toward a final decision in a way that makes it clear that all voices were heard.”

Some decision makers are hesitant to make a final call when there are good arguments in play and a lot of emotions on both sides. The hope is that the team will come to the right decision on its own. In Girouard’s experience, though, he has found that staff members are enormously relieved when the organization’s head uses the “CEO’s prerogative” and makes the decision.

As for accountability, Girouard also said that plans and action items should always have assigned due dates. For items marked critical, it may even be useful to challenge the due date to maintain maximum efficiency. To this end, decision makers should get into the habit of asking one, simple question: “Why can’t this be done sooner?” Asking that question methodically and habitually can have a profound impact on the speed of the organization. After all, ideas can float into the ether if they are never anchored in time. “You don’t have to be militant about it,” Girouard said, “just consistently respond that today is better than tomorrow, that right now is better than six hours from now.”

“Too many people believe that speed is the enemy of quality. To an extent, they are right. You can’t force innovation and sometimes genius needs time and freedom to bloom,” Girouard said. However, in his experience, that is the rare case. There is not always a stark tradeoff between something done fast and done well. The trick is for your organization not to lose momentum. “The moment you do, you lose your competitive advantage,” he concluded.
Fast Company (08/06/15) Girouard, Dave
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SEPTEMBER 2015 EDITION
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